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Opposition leaders reject political dialogue - Armenian parliament speaker

April 22, 19:02 UTC+3 YEREVAN

According to the parliament speaker, Armenian President Armen Sarkissian appeared at the rally and called on the leader of the protests MP Nikol Pashinyan to sit down at a negotiating table

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YEREVAN, April 22. /TASS/. Speaker of Armenia’s parliament Ara Babloyan has called on the nation to demonstrate prudence and restraint and on the opposition leaders who are rejecting political dialogue to think about their responsibility for possible negative developments.

"Assessing the current situation and being aware of the government’s liability to maintain law and order, I call to show prudence, to think about constitutional rights and obligations and sit down at a negotiating table," he said in a statement on Sunday.

"In the recent days, many people have raised their voice of protests addressed to the Armenian authorities. Such manifestations of protest are characteristic of democratic countries," the speaker said, adding that regrettably violations of law and order had been reported.

"Various international organizations, the Armenian overseas diaspora, civil society, various political forces and the authorities have been calling to talks, for a discussion to avoid deterioration of the situation," Babloyan stressed.

According to the parliament speaker, Armenian President Armen Sarkissian appeared at the rally and called on the leader of the protests MP Nikol Pashinyan to sit down at a negotiating table. But, after their Sunday’s meeting, "it became evident that Nikol Pashinyan is not apt for political dialogue geared to avoid possible adverse consequences, ease tension and begin constructive work," he said.

In an situation when the leaders and organizers of the protests "reject political dialogue having opted for an all-or-nothing tactics," they must understand that they "undertake responsibility for the development of the situation and will be held answerable for that," the speaker underscored. "Armenia has all political and legal instruments to settle the situation in a calm, non-violent way."

"I address my call for restraint and tolerance to all people, to all political forces, to our sisters and brothers, to our sons and the youth. I believe in the wisdom of our people," he stressed.

Earlier in the day, the Armenian prosecutor general’s office confirmed the arrest of opposition lawmakers Nikol Pashinyan, Ararat Mirzoyan and Sasun Mikaelian on charges of holding unauthorized rallies.

The situation in Yerevan remains very tense. Mass rallies began in Yerevan and other cities of Armenia on Monday protesting against the nomination of former president Serzh Sargsyan’s candidacy for prime minister. On Tuesday, Sargsyan was elected prime minister.

Now, Armenia is switching over to a parliamentary system of government. Prior to the constitutional reform that followed the 2015 referendum, Armenian presidents were elected by direct and universal suffrage. When all constitutional amendments finally come into force, Armenia will complete its transition to a parliamentary form of government, with the prime minister exercising executive authority and the president performing mainly representative functions and being in charge of control over compliance with the constitution.

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